Caring for an elderly or disabled adult can be exhausting
and sometimes lonely, particularly if you are the only family member available
to provide care. By sharing, you can get some help and companionship from
others in the same situation.
How to Find Others to Share Care With
To share the care of an elderly or disabled relative, you'll
need to find another family or person who needs care, lives relatively nearby,
and has needs that are at least somewhat similar to yours. That way, you will
be better able to share the caregiving responsibilities equally.
Finding others to share or cooperate with is easy to do in
retirement communities and senior cohousing, but elsewhere it requires a more
concerted search effort. Contact your local senior services agency or senior
center to find out whether it has a message board or other means of
communicating with other families. And ask around among your friends,
neighbors, and co-workers—perhaps one of them knows someone who would be a fit.
Tasks You Can Share When Caring for a Senior or Disabled Relative
There are many tasks you can share to ease burdens for the
caretaker and those receiving care, including:
and meal delivery. You can work with other families to cook for
each other's relatives on a rotating schedule.
and carpooling. You can share driving to medical appointments,
activities, or simple errands that require transportation. If your family
members have shared activities, such as day care, physical therapy,
exercise classes, or events and lectures at the local senior center, you
can even set up a carpool.
- Errands. You
can trade off buying groceries and doing other errands for your family
chores. Basic cleaning and other chores can be challenging for an
elder or person with disabilities who is otherwise able to live alone.
Instead of doing all the chores for your family member each week, you can
agree to a rotating schedule of chores with your fellow sharers. You'll
end up doing double the work on the day that you're responsible for the
chores—but the next week, you'll get the day off. Of course, you could
also share the cost of hiring someone to do chores at both homes.
- Companionship. Many
elders who live alone wish that they had more contact with other people
from day to day. Volunteers may be available to visit people in their
homes. Often, however, the problem isn't a lack of potential companions,
but an inability to physically get together. If the person you care for
has friends or other family nearby, you could help set up an ongoing
social event, rotated among your homes. For example, each family might
host a bridge night or an afternoon get together, with arrangements to
share transportation to and from the gathering.
care. Perhaps you don't want to enter into a full sharing
arrangement that covers the majority of your caregiving time, but you need
an occasional break from your responsibilities. You can trade with another
caregiver on a rotating basis, taking your charge to the other person's
house to give you a day off, and then returning the favor when asked. You
could do this ad hoc, or according to a set schedule.
For more information
on elder care, check out Elder Care Link,
which has information, articles, and links to elder care providers.